How Stock’s Strategic Pivot Led To Massive Growth

How Stock's strategic pivot led to massive growth

Being able to adapt is one of the keys to success as an entrepreneur. In this interview, Jim Snediker shares how he and his co-founders pivoted to focus on a very specific customer type, and it made all the difference for their business.

👇 Key Takeaways

  • Jim and his co-founders started by selling at local pop-up shops
  • They used influencer marketing (before it was known as influencer marketing) to grow
  • Stock pivoted to focusing only on uniforms six years into the business
  • They manufactured masks during COVID and used the profits to grow the business after the hospitality industry opened up again


Business Name: Stock
Website URL:
Founders: Jim Snediker, Tim Tierney, and Mike Morarity
Business Location: Chicago IL
Year Started: 2012
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 8

How much revenue and profit does the business generate?

We generated $3.4 million in revenue in 2023, and we aim for 50% gross margins.

Tell us about yourself and your business.

Hi, my name is Jim Snediker. I’m the CEO and co-founder of Stock Manufacturing Company, which is based in Chicago, IL. 

We design and manufacture uniforms for the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurants, retail stores, commercial real estate guards, airport lounge staff, and any other business that provides a hospitality experience for its customers.

How does your business make money?

We are in the B2B uniform manufacturing business. Businesses hire us to design, develop, and manufacture their uniform programs. 

What was your inspiration for starting the business?

We started our business in 2012 as a men’s wear line selling directly to consumers. We sold pocket squares, ties, and button-down shirts. We would grab leftover fabric from a local factory, make garments, and sell them at pop-up shops around Chicago.

In 2013, we were approached by a local restaurant, Alinea, which at the time was ranked the number one restaurant in the world. They brought us in to do their uniform program. 

Following that successful uniform program, Goose Island approached us and wanted to do something that connected the brand to its local roots here in Chicago. We collaborated with them creating merchandise, apparel and their brewpub staff.

Goose Island shirts
Photo courtesy of Jim Snediker

At that point, we started to see a path forward in B2B uniform manufacturing. Following our first two collaborations, I reached out to a contact at Lettuce Entertain You, one of the largest restaurant groups in the US. We did a uniform program for a high-profile restaurant they were opening, RPM Steak. That went extremely well and we now service a few dozen of their restaurants across the country.

Man wearing an RPM Steak uniform
Photo courtesy of Jim Snediker

How and when did you launch the business?

Stock originally launched in 2012, and our first B2B uniform job was in 2013, but we didn’t focus on B2B uniform manufacturing full-time until the end of 2018. At that point, we decided to wind down the D2C business and focus exclusively on uniforms, which was a big turning point for us.

How much money did you invest to start the business?

We were all still working jobs when we launched the business. We were broke, we would take unused fabric from a local factory that was owned by a partner of ours. We’d turn that fabric into shirts, sell them at pop-up shops, and pay the factory back for the fabric.

We had no money when we launched the business.

How did you find your first few clients or customers?

Our first B2B uniform client was the top restaurant in the world at the time, Alinea. My business partner went to school with the chef at their sister restaurant, and he liked our brand.

What was your first year in business like?

In early 2012, we got enough money together from selling at pop-up markets to launch a website. Back then it actually cost something to build a site.

We were a highly collaborative brand and we would bring in a different designer each month and treat them as a kickstarter for these up and coming designers launching their products. We would pick an item we thought was cool, do a sample for them, photograph it, put it up on the site, and if they hit a minimum number of sales, we would manufacture it and split the profits, and that piece would be part of our collection going forward.

The problem was, we had no money to market and the designers we were partnering with also didn’t have any money. So I had the idea to partner with what would now be called influencers. At that time, it would’ve been someone with a big follower on Tumblr or Blogger.

We started to see significant growth starting in 2018 when we started focusing fulltime on the B2B uniform business.

  • $700k in 2019
  • $1.6m in 2020
  • $1.6m in 2021
  • $2.6m in 2022
  • $3.4m in 2023

What strategies did you use to grow the business?

We’ve always been a very collaborative brand. When we were just getting started as a D2C brand, we collaborated with bloggers and influencers.

As we grew, we collaborated with Miller High Life, Goose Island, and Red Wing Boots. When COVID shut down the hospitality industry, we collaborated with local restaurants and bars to raise money for service workers.

Our growth has largely been built on relationships, quality service, and products. People change jobs in the hospitality industry regularly, and if you provide high-quality service, they remember you.

Tell us about your team.

We have eight employees in the US and three full-time staff members in the Philippines.

Stock Co-Founders
Photo courtesy of Jim Snediker

What are your future plans for the business?

We’ve started branching out into other industries. Last year, we worked with Vornado, one of the largest holders of commercial real estate in the US. We outfitted all of their security guards with custom suits. In 2023, we also worked with Chase Sapphire airport lounges, another industry we hadn’t worked in previously.

Our goal is to be the best hospitality uniform designer & manufacturing firm in the world.

What was the turning point when you knew your business was successful?

We had a rocky start to 2020 due to COVID lockdowns. Our pipeline had dried up because restaurants and hotels weren’t open. We managed to make a few smart moves in late Q1/Q2 that ultimately led to record growth in 2020 (albeit with unsustainable products), and really expanded our business in the south and southwest, where most businesses were still open.

Our 2021 goal was to take our 2020 revenue from masks (nearly a million dollars) and replace it with our core business. We were able to invest those profits wisely and have continued strong growth since!

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned growing the business?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to simplify things. My philosophy is to reduce friction for the customers. This means examining your process and your product and stripping away as much as you can.

A great example of this is when we started stocking the staples to our B2B customers: white oxford shirts, blue chambray shirts. It reduced the number of options clients had. These pieces can be used in a variety of ways to create uniform programs. It removes the number of decisions they have to make and allows them to get their uniforms faster.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

The biggest mistake we ever made was hiring for “culture” only. We built a small factory in Chicago. We hired young designers and tried to teach them how to sew. What we should have done was hire sewers who knew what they were doing, use their experience, and then optimize our line.

What are some of your favorite books, blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels?

A few books I like: Shoedog and Message in a Bottle. I really like this episode of How I Built This.

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